The Modern Office staff once again attended the annual NEOCON design exposition and conference in Chicago from June 9th to June 11th, 2014.
Our main interest was in office furniture, but everything from fabrics to flooring to interior building products and more were on display in over 1 million square feet of showroom space.
What were some of the trends for 2014?
Adjustable height tables and desks powered by push-button motors were prominent. This allows the user to stand and move while working. Many studies published recently tout the health advantages of standing instead of sitting. Unlike office chairs, humans don’t have pneumatic cylinders to adjust their height, so if they stand while they work then the table must adjust to be at the proper height.
Some desks even featured built-in treadmills, so the worker can walk while working in order to exercise and burn calories. These slow-moving treadmills don’t make you gasp for air or drench your clothes with sweat, but they do keep you moving and active at a slow to moderate walking pace.
With so many standing height desks, tables and other counter height surfaces it was no surprise that drafting stools and bar stools were found everywhere.
Pods and alcoves for privacy were a trend that built upon itself from last year. The open office encourages collaboration, but any open office needs areas for privacy. Many showrooms were turning back to the idea of privacy and individual offices again.
The idea of breaking up and adding privacy to open office plans was evidenced in several new architectural partitions. These architectural partitions are several steps beyond the typical 60″ x 60″ fabric office panel. Instead, they are works of art in every material, shape, and color possible.
Reception seating had the collaborative theme too, with back-to-back and side-to-side units promoting interaction and built-in electrical and electronic features adding convenience.
A honeycomb paper pulp flexible panel system was an interesting introduction in the office panel category. Its accordion-like cells expand and contract to allow the partition to change lengths and shapes. It absorbs sound and transmits light in different ways depending on which version is used.
Casual meeting and breakout areas emphasized kits and modules that could be reconfigured not just in terms of floor plan, but also in “building block” type ways that were reminiscent of preschool seating.
Colors this year were again bold, with saturated hues. Gold and metallic highlights were seen in wall and floor coverings. Rough hewn and reclaimed woods were popular.
What’s predicted for 2015? Many believe we will see a continued progression toward individualized work areas or offices for certain workers. Privacy in the open office plan will be emphasized. More people will stand during much of their workday. We will start to see a shift away from vivid colors and saturated hues. Modern Office will of course be there to again see the latest trends. Please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-443-5117 with any of your office furniture questions.